LGDR Gallery Splits Up After Less than Two Years, as Founding Partner Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn Departs

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LGDR gallery, formed by four prominent art dealers to counter the rise of mega-galleries, is de-partnering after less than two years in business.

One of the principals, Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, confirmed to Artnet News she is leaving the consortum, whose awkward name is based on the last names of the four principals: L for Dominque Lévy, G for Brett Gorvy, D for Amalia Dayan, and R for Greenberg Rohatyn.

The three remaining founding partners will continue working together, but will drop the acronym. Going forward, the trio will be known as Lévy Gorvy Dayan, according to the gallery.

“I am very excited to start fresh,” Greenberg Rohatyn told Artnet News this week. “I really wanted to continue the kind of work I’ve always done. I am very experimental. I react quickly. I am very activist minded. All this is much harder to do when you have four people and you don’t have enough months in the year to do all the projects I am interested in doing.”

Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn. Photo: Clint Spaulding/Patrick McMullan

The news, announced to staff in a town hall on August 18, had been whispered about for months, as LGDR meandered since its launch amidst shifting trajectories and artist and staff defections. In the end, the four dealers, who had been friends before formally going into business together, decided that it was more important to preserve their “precious friendship,” Lévy told Artnet News in a separate interview this week. “It’s a very amicable parting,” she added. 

Greenberg Rohatyn will resume operating Salon 94, the gallery she founded in 2003 in her townhouse on East 94th Street in Manhattan. Over the years, she added two locations on the Lower East Side, including a cavernous basement on the Bowery near the New Museum. She also had built an art advisory business that counts celebrities including A-Rod and Jay Z among its clients. In April 2021, she consolidated everything under one roof, in a restored landmark building on East 89th Street that used to be part of the National Academy of Design campus.

That location—bought by Greenberg Rohatyn for $22.3 million and renovated by the late architect Rafael Viñoly during the pandemic—was initially tapped to become the future headquarters of LGDR, the four principals announced in August 2021.

Niki de Saint Phalle,Black Dancer. Photo by Genevieve Hanson. Image courtesy Salon 94.

Niki de Saint Phalle, Black Dancer, at Salon 94. Photo by Genevieve Hanson. Courtesy: Salon 94.

But those plans changed. In April, LGDR inaugurated its new flagship on East 64th Street, in a Beaux Arts mansion known as the longtime quarters of the Wildenstein Gallery (and more recently a Skarstedt gallery branch). The building is owned by billionaire Len Blavatnik, and LGDR is renting. 

“We all fell in love with that building,” Lévy said. “We wanted a new identity all together.”

The change of location wasn’t the only shift from the original vision, as the four wealthy, strong-minded dealers struggled to find a united and consistent way forward. For instance, the partners initially told the they wouldn’t participate in art fairs outside of Asia. But this year, LGDR showed in at TEFAF in New York and Art Basel in Europe. Lévy Gorvy Dayan plans to exhibit at Paris + par Art Basel in October and Art Basel Miami Beach in December.

Lévy said that LGDR’s statements about art fair participation weren’t “understood properly” at the time. “We were always committed to Art Basel,” she said.

While LGDR tried to the exude “togetherness,” as Lévy put it at a press preview for its inaugural show “Rear View” in April, Greenberg Rohatyn continued to operate Salon 94 Design, exhibiting under this name at Design Miami.  

Salon 94 Design presentation of Gloria Kisch at Design Miami in 2021. Photo: Katya Kazakina

“Jeanne’s passion for specific projects wasn’t always as fulfilled in the partnership,” Lévy said. “We all came to the realization that unless you are completely fulfilled about what you are passionate about, it doesn’t make sense.”  

There were other hurdles. Several key Salon 94 artists abandoned LGDR, including Laurie Simmons, Huma Bhabha, and Derrick Adams. And so did some artists who had worked with Lévy Gorvy, the former gallery of Lévy and Gorvy. Painter Pat Steir, an octogenarian who had four solo exhibitions at Lévy Gorvy from 2016 to 2021, decamped for Hauser & Wirth.

Earlier this year, Adrian Piper, who showed with Lévy Gorvy without a formal representation for seven years, sent out an email that she no longer works with LGDR. A non-exclusive representation of artist Mickalene Thomas ended as well.

Some departures were hard to swallow.

“I was very sad to see Pat go,” Lévy said this week about Steir. “I personally gave her everything I had to give an artist.”

Brett Gorvy, Pat Steir (center), and Dominique Lévy at the press preview of “Pat Steir: Kairos” at Lévy Gorvy in 2017. Photo: Katya Kazakina

Greenberg Rohatyn said that some artists “just didn’t believe in the concept” of the partnership of four dealers.

“This was a brave experiment,” she said. “It was a post-Covid moment of trying something new in the art world. It was embraced by the collector community. The artist community didn’t love it.”

She demurred from specifying as to which artists will be represented by Salon 94 when it reopens in October with sculptures by Karon Williams, ceramics by Myrtle Williams (1938-2022), and hip-hop jewelry by identical twins Dynasty & Soull Ogun.

“I am really about making amazing exhibitions, one artist at a time,” Greenberg Rohatyn said.  

LGDR's new flagship space at 19 East 64th Street in New York. Photo by Matt Grubb for LGDR. Image courtesy of LGDR.

LGDR’s new flagship space at 19 East 64th Street in New York. Photo by Matt Grubb for LGDR. Courtesy of LGDR.

The four dealers plan to continue collaborating. They will jointly present new paintings by young artist Jenna Gribbon in November in New York. Greenberg Rohatyn is also helping with the presentation at Paris + par Art Basel in October.

Greenberg Rohatyn said she doesn’t regret having joined LGDR, but she also looks forward to running her own gallery and having her “independent voice” again. “I cannot be more thrilled,” she said.

 

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